From June to October, the period we refer to as the Austral winter, whales flock to the waters of Reunion.
Visit the West by Buggy
With Buggy’Run it’s a whole new way to visit Le Maïdo, with a day’s excursion in the west driving an all-terrain buggy, which is a really fun and original experience. Along the way you’ll stop off at Pointe du Diable, Etang-Salé, Les Avirons, Tévelave, then head along the Tamarins forestry road before arriving at Le Maïdo, and to finish the day you’ll go back down to the beaches of Saint-Paul.
La forêt de l’aventure
In the middle of a cryptomeria forest, there is an adventure playground up in the branches of trees, called ‘La Forêt de l’Aventure.’ An assault course with over forty different activities of varying difficulty, all spread across 8 sites, for a day out which combines both sport and relaxation in the great outdoors. This kind of activity can be found in Le Maïdo, Les Makes and in Saint-Philippe.
There is of course no snow in Reunion, but you can go sledging up at the Relais du Maido, a must-see tourist site. First you are pulled up 40m by a cable, and then you launch yourself full speed down the run, sat on your sledge as you whizz through the hydrangeas and other woody aromas. These wonderful thrills make it a popular attraction for both young and old. As well as sledging, you can also try other activities such as archery, quad biking, pony-riding and remote controlled boats.
One of Reunion’s most visited sites, Le Maïdo is accessible by car via a winding mountain road which is a really nice drive in itself. After crossing the forest road lined with highland tamarind trees, you arrive at the top, the summit of Piton Maïdo at an altitude of 2200m. A unique opportunity to admire the cirque of Mafate 1000m below, with breath-taking scenery on show beyond the safety barriers. We recommend you go early in the morning (between 6 and 8am) in order to get the best view before it clouds over. And don’t forget to cover up too, because it can get quite chilly up there.
The History of Sugar
Sugarcane is an important part of Reunion’s history, and even today, during the harvest (October-December) you’ll see the heavily laden trucks (called ‘cachalots’, meaning whales!) carrying freshly cut cane to the factories from all over the island. Installed in a former factory, the Stella Matutina Museum charts the history of the sugar cane industry.
Formerly a coral transformation centre, the buildings were transformed into a marine turtle sanctuary where today you can observe and admire them swimming in various landscaped tanks and pools. The sanctuary’s objective is to protect these animals and raise awareness about conservation.
For the more energetic
Downhill mountain-biking at Le Maïdo
For the more energetic, mountain-biking downhill from Le Maïdo along special cycle paths really is an experience not be missed. The site is well-known for this sport – the annual event known as the Mégavalanche starts just by the summit, and is downhill race which is well-known all over the world. You’ll be taken up to the top by a shuttle bus, and then you head down different tracks depending on your level, from complete beginners to hardy bikers.
There are several companies who organise this: one is called Coco Bike, a team of enthusiastic pros in Saint-Gilles who look forward to accompanying both tourists and residents down the most beautiful downhill cycle paths in Reunion.
Reunion is a paradise for hiking ‘addicts’, and with 360 different footpaths, there really is something for all levels. From the most difficult (such as the ascension of Piton des Neiges) to the easiest (such as La Nouvelle in Mafate), all hikes have the following in common: stunning scenery and the promise of good times to be shared.
Canyoning and rafting
For adrenaline enthusiasts, Reunion’s mountainous relief means it is full of pools, waterfalls and rivers, making it the perfect adventure playground for canyoning, rafting or aqua-hiking. There are spots for all levels, with professional monitors taking care of the equipment and your safety. You just have to put on your shoes, don your bathing suit and seize the moment.
This activity takes place up in the hills of Saint-Leu, and is accessible to all levels. Depending on weather conditions, induction flights are on offer every day. All you need to do is take off…
Tasting rum ‘arrangé’
Rum ‘arrangé’ is one of Reunion’s traditional drinks, and is made by mixing rum with fresh or dried fruit and cane sugar, and leaving it all to macerate – for a more pronounced flavour, it’s best to wait for a least a few months before sampling it. You can not only learn how to prepare these different rums, but also to taste and appreciate the subtle notes of ginger, pepper and lychee.
As the saying goes, the best moments are the simplest. You’ll be able to enjoy the different sunsets unique to each corner of the island. Each place has its own special touch, whether it’s the blazing orange sun setting on the beach of Etang Salé, the early shadows hitting the ramparts of Mafate or a pirate-themed sunset over the seafront cannons at the Barachois in Saint-Denis.
Reunion has a protected lagoon where you can admire many types of coral and fish. And if you’re lucky, you may even come across a marine turtle.